Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish

Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish

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The Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus), is also called the Shortfin Lionfish or simply the Dwarf Lionfish. Beautiful, hardy, and graceful, they are sure to pop in any saltwater aquarium.

It has red, white, and black vertical stripes along the body with large, fan-like pectoral fins and tall, fuzzy appendages on it’s dorsal fins. The pelvic, pectoral and dorsal fins of this fish are venomous, causing reactions similar to a bee sting and can cause extreme pain, so be very careful and never feed by hand. If allergic, severe reactions can occur. If stung soak injured area in hot water and seek medical attention immediately.

Originating from the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and inhabiting coastal waters, the Dwarf Lionfish loves to hang around caves and rocky outcrops that provide them with a bit of peace, and a great place to lurk for passing prey. A 50 gallon or larger aquarium with numerous hiding places is suitable.

The Dwarf Lionfish diet consists of meaty foods such as live shrimp (including ornamental shrimp), live fish, and sometimes, crustacean flesh. When first introduced into the aquarium, live saltwater feeder shrimp should be used to entice this fish to eat.

Of course, this will limit tank mates to species which won’t fit into the lionfish’s ample mouth! Bear in mind that even these dwarf lionfish can consume surprisingly large prey, so damsels, blennies, gobies and other fish can be vulnerable, as can many shrimps and other mobile invertebrates.

Weaning the dwarf lionfish onto frozen meaty foods can be a battle of wills and the owner must have great patience. Some individuals will present few problems, but others can be stubborn. Get tongs or long-handle tweezers and try waggling strips of lancefish or other silvery fish in front of the Fuzzy. They’re very responsive to movement when it comes to prey detection.